Many people believe that just because they’re in the water, they don’t need to wear a helmet.
Extreme water sports such as wakeboarding are some of the fastest growing recreational and sporting activities.
Quite frankly, it’s alarming that many people don’t ponder on the dangers associated with taking to the water without a suitable helmet. It’s pretty scary, isn’t it?
The use of a helmet for almost all water sports is absolutely necessary; hitting water head-on at high speeds can cause the same damage as hitting a concrete floor. The use of a fit for purpose helmet is crucial for this reason alone.
Whether you’re a newbie taking to the water for the first time or are an experienced water sportsperson who has grown confident in your abilities, the use of a helmet is non-negotiable; being overly-confident can be deadly!
Here, I am going to review the very best helmets for wakeboarding and other extreme sports and provide useful information which you can use in-order to make the best purchasing decision.
It’s Simple: A good Helmet keeps You Safe
Although we mostly associate the use of helmets with land-based sports and they are much more prevalent in those, they are just as important and useful for water sports.
Water-based sports are often viewed as safer because… well, they take place in water. That doesn’t mean anything, though. Science has shown us that a water landing can be just as dangerous as a landing on a hard ground at high speeds.
A sudden and unexpected high-speed impact on the water is just as likely to cause the same degree of damage as on land. For this reason, there should be no perceived difference between land and water when it comes to helmets.
In addition, let’s not forget that an injury in water, which causes concussion or a minor head injury, is more dangerous than that on land due to the risk of drowning.
Head injuries are no joke either on or off land; they can have a devastating impact on the brain in multiple ways. Traumatic brain injuries can completely change your life; investing in a fit for purpose helmet is not something to umm and ahh over.
How a helmet protects you
Helmets are designed to keep foreseeable impacts, for a given activity, within your brain’s range of tolerance. It does this by preventing the penetration of objects and absorbing kinetic (impact) energy.
As energy is absorbed through the layer of foam within the helmet, it crushes up. This is a purposeful design that forces the energy to damage or break the foam layer instead of the human skull.
In most cases of a particularly bad collision, the helmet gets severely damaged and needs to be replaced. If there is ever any physical damage on a helmet – either on the outer or inner layer – it needs to be replaced and should not be reused.
A properly fitting helmet also keeps everything in place, should there be any resulting skull fracture or damage after an impact. In this type of situation, it can save your life. It’s not a pretty image, but the helmet can keep your head from splitting open.
A helmet needs to be fit for purpose
You may have noticed that I have used the words fit for purpose multiple times already, but what does this mean?
All helmets are designed with a specific activity in mind. Motorcycle helmets are specifically designed for motorcycling activities, caving helmets are designed for use in caves and water sports helmets are designed for… you guessed it… water sports.
Using a helmet which is fit for purpose (i.e. it has been specially designed for the sport or activity you are doing) is crucial.
On the water, a helmet designed for motorcycling won’t provide the same level of protection as a helmet designed for wakeboarding and vice-versa.
A helmet’s design accounts for the likely risks, collisions and impacts, which could take place for a given activity.
A helmet designed for whitewater rafting, for instance, tends to protect against bumps against rocks at around 10 to 15 miles per hour, whereas a motorcycle helmet is designed to protect against speeds 4 to 6 times that.
Fit for purpose means more than choosing a helmet which provides enough protection. You need to know that your helmet isn’t going to be damaged by the marine environment (salt water) or absorb water when wet, which impacts buoyancy.
This is why it is crucial you pick the right helmet which has been designed for wakeboarding and other extreme sports, and these sports only.
3 things to look for when choosing a helmet for extreme water sports
If you can find a helmet which fits all the below criteria, you’re on to a winner! Luckily for you, the products I have reviewed below do.
1. Fit and comfort
Your helmet obviously needs to fit you well. If it doesn’t, it will fall off and/or provide very little protection should you have an impact with the water or another object.
The fit of your helmet is crucial to both protection and comfort. You want a helmet which isn’t going to keep coming loose while you’re on the water, or something which causes irritation after an extended period of time.
You should pay special care to whether the helmet is likely to fit you snugly. A lot of helmets are adjustable, but there are upper and lower limits.
A helmet which fits properly will not come off during an impact nor will it slip and slide when you’re gliding across the water. The best way to choose a helmet is to measure the circumference of your head and compare it to the helmet’s product description.
Helmets specifically designed for wakeboarding and extreme water sports have undergone lots of research and development to ensure safety.
If a helmet is not tested properly then it is not safe, simple as that. Manufacturers will always state which tests have been carried out, and there are industry standards which need to be met by law.
All helmets on my list below have undergone relevant testing, however, if you are going to purchase a product which isn’t featured here, I recommend you look into whether it has been tested or not, and if it’s a reputable product.
Other helmet safety includes not buying a second-hand helmet (it could be damaged, even if you can’t see it) and to replace it every few years or after each hard impact.
A good rule of thumb is that any impact which would have caused you harm if you didn’t have the helmet warrants it being replaced.
3. Inner lining
This is not just a point about comfort although a good inner lining will provide this. It is also the part which will wear out quicker than any other.
Any helmet you purchase should have an inner lining made from high-quality materials. A quality inner lining helps to protect your head by absorbing energy from the impact and it keeps you comfortable too.
Other safety equipment for extreme water sports
There are lots of pieces of safety equipment which can be useful when you take to the water. Most important of them all is a life vest.
It goes without saying that when you are participating in water sports, particularly ones taking place out at sea, you should be wearing the very best life vest possible.
Fortunately, life vests are viewed in a more favorable light than helmets, however, there are some who opt to not wear them.
This is always a bad idea; the water can be unpredictable. You never know when you’re going to be thrown off your board or which obstacles lurk below. A life vest keeps you afloat when you are unable to, it’s not an optional extra.
Other pieces of safety equipment which can come in useful are whistles, lights for attracting attention and flip knives. There are all sorts of resources out there which can help you in this area!
The 5 Best Helmets for Wakeboarding and Extreme Sports
Having performed extensive research and even trying some of these products out for myself, I have come up with this list of the five best helmets not just for wakeboarding, but for extreme water sports in general.
Pro-Tec Ace Wake Helmet
For absolute safety and protection, the Pro-Tec Ace Wake Helmet has a fit system which fully surrounds the head of the wearer for maximum safety and protection.
On its interior is an ECA liner which features dual density. It is both waterproof and highly resistant to impacts. The exterior shell has been made with high-density plastic which is ABS injected for durability.
The helmet itself is very lightweight and provides a high degree of protection without weighing down the wearer. For the most part, you will forget you are wearing a helmet until something happens or you take it off!
Comfort and fit are provided by the helmet’s rear head lock which cups the back of the wearer’s head. The fit can be adjusted, too, and it will fit most adults without any dramas. There are sizes from XS to XXL available.
The ear guards which you can see on the product’s image are removable – some don’t like wearing them, however, they offer an extra level of protection, so I would recommend leaving them on.
- An absolute steal for the price point.
- Features 15 ventilation holes to reduce sweating.
- Exterior made from lightweight hardened plastic.
- There are multi-use straps (for mounting cameras and goggles) but they’re not the best I have seen.
Triple Eight Water Halo Helmet
Featuring a high-density durable ABS injected outer shell which protects well against bumps and scrapes, the Triple Eight Water Halo Helmet is great if you are on a budget and are still looking for decent protection.
Its interior is lined with a closed cell EVA foam lining which provides comfort and safety. It is also water resistant and antibacterial.
Although the helmet itself isn’t adjustable in terms of its size, the neoprene chin strap is, and it meets safety standards for water sports, too.
Yes, this helmet is nowhere near as flashy as some of the others on my list, but it is simple and does the job which is fine if you don’t mind sacrificing some comfort, adjustability and features such as attachment straps and ear guards.
- Waterproof and antibacterial inner lining.
- Hardened plastic exterior which has been treated for durability.
- Meets industry safety standards for water sports.
- Lack of additional features such as straps and ear guards.
Jobe Slam Wake Helmet
Available in several different sizes, this helmet has been designed with wakeboarding in mind, however, it is still suitable for a whole range of water sports.
It fits snugly and securely around the head of the wearer and its thick and hardened outer casing protects against more severe bumps and bashes. The helmet is more than capable of safely absorbing impacts of varying degrees.
It can be bought in several different sizes ranging from XS to XXL and multiple colors. Additional features include ear protectors which are detachable, a rear adjuster for sizing and places to attach other equipment such as a GoPro camera or goggles.
Neck straps are made from nylon and are fully adjustable, ensuring that the helmet stays firmly in place while it’s on whether you’re performing tricks or just going for a quick glide across the water.
Having personally used this helmet, I can tell you that when you are wearing it, it feels like there’s nothing there at all. It’s a very comfortable product for its price point and has all the basic necessities down.
- Room for attaching accessories.
- Adjustable chin strap and rear for ultimate comfort and safety.
- Can absorb more severe impacts.
- Fewer ventilation holes than on comparable helmets.
Liquid Force Core Wakeboard Helmet
The high-density ABS outer shell on this helmet provides maximum protection against even the most severe impacts, while the dual-density closed cell waterproof foam liner provides cushioning, comfort and absorbs energy from the impact.
In terms of safety and comfort, this is one of the leading products available on the market today. Although it looks relatively simplistic, it still provides everything wakeboarders of all shape, size and skill need.
Good news for those who sweat a lot – there is plenty of ventilation and the helmet has been treated with Pro-Dri Plus Lining which wicks away moisture from the helmet. With this product, you won’t be disturbed by the feeling of residual moisture.
If you’re not too bothered by how your helmet looks and you are simply looking for something safe and functional, this could be your go-to. It’s a great helmet at a budget-friendly price point without all the bells and whistles.
Want a simple helmet? You’ve got one right here!
- Plenty of air holes for ventilation.
- Water-resistant treatment which wicks off sweat and water.
- Adjustable chin strap.
- Doesn’t come with additional features; a very simple helmet.
Berne Watts Matte Water Helmet
I am a huge fan of the way this thing looks… although I am a sucker for matte designs! Some helmets are designed with quirky and outlandish color schemes and themes; Berne have kept it simple here with their bold matte black helmet.
Color isn’t what’s important though, it’s all about safety and comfort with wakeboarding helmets.
Looking something like a bicycle helmet, this product by Berne Watts covers most of the head with a half-shell design. It fits snugly around the with help of the chin strap which can easily be tightened. Foam drains maximize ventilation and get rid of water quickly.
This helmet is a great all-rounder which provides comprehensive protection without making you look like something out of a sci-fi movie. If you’re into that, other colors and designs are available!
- This is the only helmet I have seen which includes foam drains.
- Simple no fuss design; the helmet simply does its job.
- Can’t attach a camera or other accessories easily.
My Personal Top Pick for the Best Helmet for Extreme Water Sports
I have to go with the number one spot on my list: the Pro-Tec Ace Wake Helmet. It’s number one for a reason!
Although it’s slightly pricier than some of the other helmets here, that only goes to show just how good it is! It provides the best protection possible for products in its league, is super lightweight and has the best ventilation I’ve ever seen.
If you are going to be spending prolonged periods of time on the water, you should buy the Pro-Tec for the ventilation reason alone!
I cannot sing enough high praises about the Pro-Tec helmet and I would encourage everybody who participates in wakeboarding to buy it.
The decision is ultimately up to you; what I like and is suitable for me is not necessarily right for you.
Your best bet is to use my information, research and reviews as a guide to finding the product most suited to your needs and taste.